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Rolan Tripp DVM
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Puppy Selection

- Pet Selection -

Puppy Selection Program

General Considerations

Big? = Better for protection and long runs. Hugs are more people sized.

Small? = Can go anywhere easier, often more childlike personality. Less food expense and poop pick-up.

Short Haired? = Better in warm climates, quicker to bathe and dry.

Long Haired? = (> 1 inch) Warmer, and nice to hug. More grooming investment, but also more options.

Sleep Indoor? = Better bonding, more stimulus to intelligence. Better guarding.

Sleep Outdoor? = Provide shelter, don't have to treat indoors for fleas.

The best age to bring a pup home is around seven to nine weeks of age. This allows the pup some socialization experience with siblings, and still encourages primary bonding with the new human owner.

Health Considerations

  • Don't adopt a puppy who is ill at the time of adoption - it is more likely to be sick later also.
  • Look for: Eye or nose thick discharge; under or overbite; harelip; lump at the belly button.
  • Avoid droopy eyelids or mouths, especially if either is discharging anything.
  • Ask about the pup's parents' health and behavior.
  • Observe parent dog's behavior for guarding, obedience, hyperactivity.
  • Personality is partially inherited - would you want to own the parent dog?
  • Ask about frequency of vet visits for the parents; any allergies (excessive scratching or skin lesions), repeated ear infections? Checked for Hip Dysplasia? Watch the adult dog get up from laying. (Slow or painful getting up?)

Puppy Personality Testing
Some studies have concluded these tests are not reliable. Others feel the puppy's basic personality traits are measurable by eight weeks of age. These tests are intended to give a general indication of what personality to expect from the adult dog. If possible, test several pups at the same time to get perspective on differences. Try to test the same pup multiple times before adoption. Only extreme variations count.
Take each puppy into a room away from the mother and other pups. Write down the test scores for each pup. Identify each one by number, or by its marking. ("Brown spot on left rear foot")

Personality Test: In this neutral setting, gently roll the pup onto its back and hold it "chest up" for about 30 seconds. Don't talk. Act calm and neutral and observe for struggling.

If it:
Score it:
Struggles constantly, growls or bites
"Strong Willed" These pups need more consistent discipline and handling.
If it:
Score it:
Acts scared, rolls eyes, whines or leaks urine
"Shy" It is best to not coddle (reward). Don't punish harshly. Act happy lots!
If it:
Score it:
Struggles some, then relaxes and lays quietly
"Balanced" (This is most desirable)

Following Test: Carry the pup to the center of the room. Put it down facing you and walk away. (Watch to see if the pup follows you without encouragement.)

If it:
Score it:
Ignores you or wanders away
"Independent" These pups need bonding exercises. Harder to train.
If it:
Score it:
Cowers or hides or follows hesitantly
"Shy" A little reprimand goes a long way. Get this pup into Puppy Class.
If it:
Score it:
Chases you and tries to play bite your foot
"Strong Willed" These pups particularly benefit from Puppy Class calming.
If it:
Score it:
Follows you with tail up and wagging
"Balanced" (This is most desirable)

If it does any of the first three choices initially, then call in a happy voice, clap and slap the floor to try to get the pup to come. If it still will not come and be friendly, do not adopt.

Activity Test: Observe the pup by itself and with the litter for general activity level.

If it:
Score it:
Is constantly in motion
"Active" These pups grab your attention, but can later tax patience.
If it:
Score it:
Is constantly lethargic (unless it just ate or is sickly)
"Slow" There is a difference between stupid (ugh) and very calm (great!).
If it:
Score it:
Is interested and moves to explore or play, then rests
"Balanced" (This is generally most desirable)

Retrieving Test: A dog who retrieves is fun to play with and much easier to exercise. Take a small ball or improvise with crumpled paper and rubber band. Bounce it in front of the pup, then roll it away. Observe the puppy's face closely without distracting it.

If it:
Score it:
Ignores the ball totally
Low retrieving potential (at least on that day and time)
If it:
Score it:
Watches the ball with interest, but doesn't follow
Fair retrieving potential
If it:
Score it:
Starts out after the ball at all, and especially if it follows or touches the ball
Good retrieving potential
If it:
Score it:
Brings the ball back to you
A born retriever!

Intelligence: Intelligence is measured by duration of eye focus, explorative sniffing, ability to learn, and tendency to explore new areas.

...::::::: Copyright 2000-Present  All Rights Reserved by Rolan Tripp, DVM  and Susan Tripp, MS, Animal Behavior Network and Associates :::::::...